Protecting and empowering consumers in vulnerable situations

Mae’r dudalen yma ar gael yn Gymraeg.

Ofgem works to make a positive difference for energy consumers. Our principle objective is to protect the interests of existing and future energy consumers. This implicitly includes consumers who are in vulnerable circumstances.

In performing our duties we must take into account the needs of the following groups of consumers, particularly if they are:

  • of pensionable age
  • have a disability
  • are chronically sick
  • on low incomes
  • living in rural areas.

Ofgem’s Consumer Vulnerability Strategy

Our strategy explains how we define vulnerability and the approach we encourage market participants to take to protect and empower consumers in vulnerable situations, so they are not disadvantaged by their circumstances.  

Find out more in our section on Consumer Vulnerability Strategy.

Engaging with others

We work with a diverse range of stakeholders including national and local consumer groups, energy supply and distribution companies, government, others regulators and academics, to ensure that our policy-making and decisions are well-informed and appropriately targeted.  

Find out more in How we engage.

Future of retail regulation and vulnerability

The retail energy market is undergoing a period of far-reaching and exciting change, driven by new technologies, new business models and new ways of running the energy system. 

Our regulatory approach needs to be responsive and flexible as the market continues to change. We must ensure that regulation helps consumers in vulnerable situations to engage with and benefit from the opportunities brought about by changes in the market. An individual’s circumstances should not disadvantage and get in the way of them realising the current and future benefits of the market.

We are considering introducing a broad, enforceable vulnerability principle which would embed and clarify our expectation that suppliers must consider the needs and circumstances of customers in vulnerable situations. 

A broad vulnerability principle would put the responsibility firmly on suppliers, creating a culture of providing effective protection for consumers in vulnerable situations in a fast changing market. Principles allow for flexibility, which promote innovation and competition among suppliers, and help create positive outcomes for consumers. 

You can follow progress on our work in this area in our section on Future retail market regulation.